Remember the 2006 movie, V for Vendetta? If you were familiar with the comics, it was an exciting moment of seeing those beloved characters jump from page to the big screen. Others discovered these characters for the first time and fell in love with the dramatic, dystopian plot, gorgeous visuals, and important message.
Now, ten years later, we’re here with the best stories, trivia, and fun facts from this spellbinding film! Starting at the beginning – the comic. Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd in the 1980’s as a protest against Thatcherism (Margaret Thatcher, the prime minister of Great Britain from 1975 to 1990 was quite conservative, and drew ire from more free-thinking individuals.) However, Moore – a longtime nonconformist – disliked Hollywood so much that he refused to accept money for the film, or even watch it!
Find out why the set of the film is so monochromatic
The film takes place in a vague future – somewhere around 2020 – in a world that’s become unrecognizable. In classic comic style, it is frozen in a timeless state, and in classic Wachowski style, it mixes both futuristic elements with gritty post-war depression. In order to create that look, production designer Owen Paterson “…tried to create a London that is very recognizable, yet frozen by having become this totalitarian state.”
The set and production designers used a palette of browns and grays to reflect the overall depression felt by the citizens. Additionally, they wanted to show – in subtle ways – the lack of choice everyone had. Set decorator Peter Walpole noted that while you might be able to buy a car or a can of baked beans, there would only be one brand available. Another example was the television studio – while they had all the things they needed, everything was the same brand.
What was the main challenge of acting with a mask on?
Hugo Weaving, who played V, was always in his mask. At first glance, that seems relatively benign, until you try to realize how hard the actors around him would have had to work to create a relatable dynamic.
Says actor Natalie Portman (Evey), “Hugo is an incredible, amazing actor so even though he had that barrier of not being able to use his face–which we’re so used to using as film actors with the camera right there–he was able to use his physicality and his voice to really create his character. Hugo is such an actor that just by his physical and vocal expressions you could tell exactly who he was.”
How was that amazing domino scene done?
The domino scene at the end was always my favorite – I loved the intricacy and detail of it. It was shot all in one take, and took four domino experts 200 hours to set up! Imagine what would have happened had someone accidentally nudged a domino…
What was the hardest part about wearing the mask?
Hugo Weaving acted in the mask at all times. His main complaint was not the mask but the wig – which was very hot. The sound was muffled when he spoke, so he re-dubbed all the lines, saying in an interview:
“It was muffled. In fact, we recreated a muffle effect in post-production. There were mikes in the mask and the quality was okay but it wasn’t great, so I had to re-voice the whole thing. When we re-recorded it we had one mike with a mask over it and another mike that was open. The lines were done a couple of times and then mixed to get the balance of muffled and non-muffled right.”
Wait, she really shaved her head?
Natalie Portman actually shaved her head! In the scene where V shaves Evey’s head, it’s not a wig and a bald cap – Portman bravely shaved off all her locks for the role. Everyone was quite nervous, as they only had one time to successfully film that scene. Thankfully, she did a stellar job. In an interview, she discussed the experience, saying:
“I was very focused on being where the character is at that moment, which is in a very traumatic place with this violence being committed against her. We only had one shot to do it because you can’t go back and re-shave the head. We had several cameras on and we had rehearsed the head shaving with volunteer guys from the crew. But, for me personally it was a choice I was happy to make.”
How did they film the Larkhill scene?
In the scene where we sort of discover what happened to V, we see him walk nearly naked through a fire in Larkhill. That scene was done by a stunt double, Chad Stahelski, who actually walked through a wall of flames, covered in flame-retardant gel.
In order to safely do the scene, his body temperature had to be lowered before the shot. In a stroke of luck, the weather outside was -3 on the night of filming, which provided additional protection.
V for Vendetta uses the letter ‘V’ a lot. See the next slide for a really cool place!
The movie works the letter “V” into as many places as possible (keep reading for some really crazy things!) When V and Evey meet for the first time, his monologue uses 48 words that begin with the letter “v”, and the letter “V” is found 55 times. ‘V’ in Roman numerals is the number 5.
For how long did the Wachowski’s want to make V for Vendetta?
Lily and Lana Wachowski, who created the movie, were huge fans of the original comic. In fact, even before creating The Matrix, they’d drafted a script for V for Vendetta!
Next for a cool story about the weapons used in V for Vendetta!
There was some serious military gear used in the movie – huge armies, tanks, and more. The tanks were real military tanks no longer in use, and had to be returned every night and inspected to make sure the weapons weren’t functional or hadn’t been tampered with.
Background checks were performed on every actor who had a weapon in the Parliament Square scene, as well. Each weapon had a bar code that would be traced back to the actor handling the weapon, to ensure that no funny business happened.
How did Natalie Portman prepare for the role?
Natalie Portman, the talented, Harvard-educated actor who plays Evey, prepared for the role studiously. She watched the 2002 documentary The Weather Underground, which explored the radical 1970s activists attempting to confront the American government over policies they disagreed with.
She also read Antonia Fraser’s “Faith and Treason”, which discussed Guy Fawkes (the man whose mask V wears), and the autobiography of Menachem Begin, one of the first Israeli prime ministers.
So who was Guy Fawkes, anyway?
Who was Guy Fawkes, and why did he inspire V? You might remember the refrain from the film – “Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot.” In 1605, the Catholic Fawkes attempted to blow up the English, Protestant House of Parliament, and with it, King John, essentially overthrowing the government.
However, he was caught and sentenced to death. Over the years, his legacy has morphed from one as a traitor to a more sympathetic light – of a freedom fighter.
In V for Vendetta, many London icons were destroyed. How did they do that?
Of course, in the movie, none of the real London icons were destroyed. Instead, perfect replicas were built – a tenth of their original size – and destroyed. It took 20 people 10 weeks to build the Old Bailey, the Clock Tower, and the Houses of Parliament.
In order to ensure that the explosions looked realistic, the teams studied the architecture of the buildings, inside and out, to understand how they would look if they were really destroyed. We think they did a great job – do you?
What’s the significance of Evey’s name?
Evey’s name is pronounced EV. ‘E’ is the fifth letter of the alphabet, and ‘V’ stands for the number 5. ‘Y’ is also the 25th letter in the alphabet – or 5 squared.
The movie also shows ‘V’s in nearly every scene – some of them obvious, others less so. Re-watch the movie and keep your eyes open for all the V’s!
Why are the police called Fingermen? The answer is pretty cool!
Did you ever wonder why the police were called ‘Fingermen’? I thought it was because they would ‘finger’, or catch suspects. The answer is much more interesting! In the New Order, everything is set up to mirror the human body:
The ‘Head’: The Chancellor
The ‘Mouth’: BTN, the television network.
The ‘Eyes’ & ‘Ears’: visual and audio surveilance.
The ‘Nose’: Inspector Finch and the police.
and finally, the ‘Hand’ or ‘Fingers’: Creedy’s secret police.
There’s a crazy significance to V’s favorite quote!
V is a very eloquent gentleman. His favorite quote is, “By the power of truth, I, while living, have conquered the universe.” Not only is this line beautiful and very applicable to the influential V, it also translates into Latin to “Vi veri veniversum vivus vici,” a phrase with five words beginning with the letter V!
V in the comic is a bit different than the movie
In the comic, V’s mask often changes with his mood. The set designers and directors considered doing that for the film as well, but decided against it, finding it too complicated a task. Instead, V’s moods are conveyed with different lighting and shadows.
Who auditioned for the role?
Kiera Knightly, Scarlett Johanssen, and Bryce Dallas Howard all auditioned for, and were considered for the role of Evey Hammond. In the end it went to the uber-talented Natalie Portman, who apparently was even excited to shave her head, saying it was something she’d wanted to do for a while!
Who copied the Guy Fawkes style of activism?
The Guy Fawkes mask has come to represent something bigger than what it was. The hacktivist group Anonymous makes all its announcements while wearing the mask – to protect their privacy, to be sure, but also as a symbol of a fight for freedom.
V for Vendetta-style protests constantly pop up around the world, as people join together to fight corrupt governments and policies they disagree with.
Who was the original V in the movie?
Hugo Weaving wasn’t always V! Originally, he was played by James Purefoy, who left the film a few weeks in due to creative differences. Being that V wears a mask at all times, and that his voice was re-dubbed, most observers weren’t able to notice.
When asked about it, director James McTeigue said, “Can I tell the difference? Yeah. Can the audience tell? I doubt it.” Let us know if you notice!
What are some interesting comparisons between V for Vendetta and 1984?
Fans of dystopian literature will draw comparisons between George Orwell’s famous work, 1984 and this book. Both feature heavily totalitarian governments, a Britain destroyed by war, and constant surveillance on all citizens.
In fact, John Hurt, who played antagonist Adam Sutler, also acted in the movie adaptation of 1984, as the hero.
What landed Stephen Fry in the hospital?
Finally, in one of the scenes, Stephen Fry, playing Gordon Dietrich, is sitting and drinking champagne with Evey (Natalie Portman.) In real life, Fry is highly allergic to champagne – so much so that he needed to be hospitalized just from being in the same room as it!
The best scene in the entire movie!
This is one of my favorite scenes of the whole movie – check it out!
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